By VeloNews Interactive Wire Services, Copyright AFP 2001
Teams participating in the Giro d’Italia and staying in hotels outside the town of San Remo were subjected to stringent searches by Italian drug squad officers (NAS) Wednesday night. Over 200 officers, reinforced by officers from several large Italian cities, were mobilized in the operation, which involved a number of teams in numerous hotels in and around San Remo.
In a hotel on the outskirts of San Remo NAS officers searched the hotels being used by the Mobilvetta and Selle Italia teams. Around 20 officers arrived and began searching all rooms occupied by team riders and team staff.
In the past two days two riders, Frenchman Pascal Herve of the Alexia team, and Riccardo Forconi of the Mercatone Uno team, were pulled out of the Tour by their respective teams after testing positive for drugs. But the searches are thought to have been motivated by events at the end of the eighth stage of the Giro, which ended on May 27 in Reggio Emilia.
A search of hotel premises had uncovered syringes in a number of hotel bedrooms, but no suspect vials or medicines were found on that occasion. On Wednesday night, officers had requisitioned the floors of the hotels where teams were staying and controlled access to rooms.
In previous days officers from the NAS had asked Giro organizers for a list of the different accredited vehicles on the tour. The officers were thought to be preparing to work on for several hours into the night.
It is not the first time the Giro has come under such close police scrutiny. In 1997, NAS officers pounced on the hotel being used by the MG team, which is now defunct.
Copyright AFP 2001